Cost per student Mercer $25,097,
Wis. $13,505, Nation $11,762
ACT comp. score Mercer 17.0,
Wis. 19.6, Lakeland UHS 20.0,
Hurley 18.7; perfect score 36.0
Mercer DPI Report Card score
lowest of all 421 Wis. districts

Saturday, September 28, 2019

More Bad/Sad News
The just announced 2018-19 Mercer School ACT composite score, as well as those going back at least five years, reflect on a failed administration and an ineffective former school board.  But it gives the new school board and new administrator the opportunity to fix a badly broken situation.

From the time former Administrator Erik Torkelson was hired by his mother-in-law, Kelly Kohegyi, in 2011, the school’s ACT scores have been in the cellar. Mercer’s composite score has never reached the state average for all the 422 school districts.

Mercer placed 19th in the latest list of 20 northern Wisconsin school districts with an abysmal ACT composite score of 17 for 2018-19.  In the year before, 2017-18, it was in 14th place with an 18.4 score and in 2016-17 it was in very last place with a 16.6 score.  (See chart below)

At an earlier Mercer School District annual meeting a good citizen labelled the Mercer ACT scores as “pathetic”.   He was falsely accused of calling the students “pathetic.”   But recordings of the meeting supported his claim that the responsibility rested with the school board, the administration and staff – and not the students. They and their parents were the victims of a failed system.

Now the school district has a new administrator and four of the five school board members are new.  (Only Micki Pierce-Holmstrom is a holdover from the former do-nothing board.) When Torkelson was administrator he reined over a school board which did as he commanded.  Some inroads where made when two conscientious members were elected, but they were always outnumbered by the Torkelson clique.

 It will be interesting the hear how the new school board views these latest ACT results and what it plans to do about it.  Such public discussions were never allowed before, but the new board president, Bob Davis, has vowed “total transparency”.

While the 2018-19 ACT results are now a matter of record, it will also be interesting to learn how Mercer ranks with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s School Report Card score.  Those results should be announced in early November.  Last year Mercer was in the very last position in a list of all the state’s 422 school districts.  



Northland Pines   20.6         Lakeland UHS        20.6         Phillips                  21.6            

Lakeland UHS       20.0         Northland Pines    20.3         Washburn             20.8

Northwood           19.4         Tomahawk             20.1         South Shore         20.4

Washburn             19.3          Phillips                   20.0         Lakeland UHS       20.1

Tomahawk            19.3         Chequamegon      19.9         Northland Pines   19.9

Superior                 19.3         Northwood           19.8         Solon Springs        19.9

Chequamegon      19.3         Hurley                     19.5        Tomahawk            19.9

Rhinelander          19.1         Drummond            19.4         Drummond          19.8

Ashland                  19.1         Rhinelander          19.3         Superior                19.4

South Shore          18.9         Hayward                19.3          Ashland                 19.1

Butternut              18.9          Superior                 19.2         Mellen                   19.0

Hayward                18.8         South Shore           18.8         Rhinelander          19.0

Hurley                    18.7         Ashland                   18.6         Chequamegon      18.7

Phillips                   18.6         MERCER                  18.4         Hayward                 18.7

Solon Springs        18.1         Mellen                    18.2          Butternut               18.6

Bayfield                  18.1        Washburn               18.0          Hurley                    18.5

Winter                    17.9         Bayfield                   18.0          Northwood           17.0

Drummond            17.8         Solon Springs         18.0          Bayfield                  16.9

MERCER                 17.0          Winter                     17.7          Winter                    16.8

Mellen                    16.9          Butternut                17.7          MERCER                 16.6




  1. Micki Pierce may be a hold over, Nehring is a Torkelson supporter and I don't hold much faith for the remaining three. The administrator really isn't new. She was immersed in the Torkelson culture.

    They only way to change the culture of the school is to replace everyone from people outside the town. Better yet, consolidate the district with another one nearby that may be interested in taking on the many academic problems with Mercer School.

  2. Glad I took my 3 kids out years ago. Too much drama between the public, school board and the administrator. It should be all about the students, not what bombshell report or newspaper article comes out. I saw the writing on the wall, thank god.

    1. Any parent who really has an interest in seeing their child have a good future must take their child out of the Mercer School before he/she begins high school. This needs to be done until the new school board and new administrator can correct the failings of the past administrator and former school board. It would make good sense to consolidate with another school district Keep the first eight grades in Mercer and bus the high school students to a real school.

    2. Problem with this is from what I see at Mercer School is that for the most part things go haywire in junior high. There is however, one elementary teacher that should still not have their job.

      Best scenario is to close the whole school. This is the best option for student success.